Over the past two weeks, seniors at Yeshiva University High School for Boys (MTA) in the Names, Not Numbers program conducted interviews with Holocaust survivors for the students’ oral history projects. These were not, however, simply question and answer interviews. All of the students involved in the class spent an entire semester preparing. This preparation included lessons on filming techniques, a trip to the Jewish History Museum in Battery Park and numerous classes led by Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Taubes, Rabbi Shalom Richter and Mrs. Tova Rosenberg.
Before the interviews, each group of students had to conduct research on the life of the survivor they would be speaking with, in order to select relevant questions for filming day. In doing so, students used references from the online databases of Yad Vashem and the National Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., as well as some pre-interview survivor testimonials compiled by Rabbi Richter.
Once interview day arrived, each student was finally introduced to his survivor. This was a unique experience, given that the students had been researching that very person for months beforehand. Now it was time to conduct an interview that would do justice to the stories of the survivor.
Each student took turns working the camera, interviewing and observing. At the end of each interview, students presented their survivor with a copy of “Out of the Depths” by Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, along with sincere thanks.
With interviews conducted, the great task still ahead is to edit the interviews down in order to produce 15 minute movies. The aim is to produce movies that will memorialize the survivors’ stories.
By Mendel Weintraub